McCarron keeps up criticism of Mickelson's groove choice

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Scott McCarron has reiterated his belief PGA Tour players should not use Ping-Eye 2 wedges with square grooves as this amounted to cheating under United States Golf Association (USGA) rules.

In a statement issued on Monday, McCarron also said he never accused Phil Mickelson of being a cheat although he was appalled by his fellow American's decision to use a 20-year-old Ping wedge at last week's San Diego Open.

The verbal spat between the pair dominated the first two rounds of the PGA Tour event with world number two Mickelson hinting he might take legal action for being "publicly slandered."

On Monday, McCarron said on his website (http://www.scottmccarron.com/): "After two days of careful contemplation I have decided to release this statement in hopes of setting the record straight.

"On January 28th I was interviewed by Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle. Ron asked me what I thought about 'Phil and a couple other guys playing the old Ping-Eye 2's'.

"I responded: 'It's cheating and I am appalled Phil has put it in play'. Despite contrary reports by the media, both in print and on TV, I never called Phil Mickelson a cheater.

"That being said, I want my fans, sponsors and most importantly my fellow players to know I will not be silenced. I will continue my efforts to get the groove issue resolved."

McCarron, a veteran of 16 years on the PGA Tour and a member of the circuit's player advisory council, urged the Tour to institute a rule to ban the 20-year-old Ping wedges.

LOOPHOLE CLOSURE

He added: "Most of the players on the PGA Tour feel the loophole in this rule needs to be closed.

"I think we should focus on the overwhelming majority of PGA Tour professionals who chose to do the right thing and play clubs with legal grooves. I applaud them.

"I am still appalled by the fact any player would make the choice to put this controversial wedge in play and I stand by my previous comments."

As of January 1, new rules relating to club-face grooves were implemented at the top level after research found modern configurations could allow players to generate almost as much spin with irons from the rough as from the fairway.

All clubs, with the exception of drivers and putters, have been affected by the change which limits groove volume and groove-edge sharpness, effectively replacing U-grooves with V-grooves.

The Ping-Eye 2 wedge used last week by Mickelson and a handful of other players, although containing square grooves, is deemed legal because of a lawsuit won by its manufacturer over the USGA in 1990.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is scheduled to discuss the grooves dispute with players on Tuesday in the build-up to this week's Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)